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Paradise Misplaced



Log Date July 25 1976. Latitude 33°N. Longitude 97°W.



Dear Journal: A remarkable day. It dawned clear and frightfully hot – the hottest day yet on our voyage. The heat, alas, was having a telling effect upon the members of the party. The women in particular had become exceedingly irritable; no amount of chilled tonic served to cool their heated tempers. The men, too, showed the strain of the burning summer; at the gates to this village they call Arlington there was a rather nasty round of grumbling regarding the fee levied upon us for our passage over this particular road which we have been told is named Turnpike. Being fearful of mutinous consequence, I suggested in secret to our driver that he keep sharp lookout for a cool and verdant place whereby we might disembark and seek some relief. His scornful look echoed my own unhappy thought: “Where in this God-forsaken sun-scorched land was there such an oasis?”

It was precisely then, as if in miraculous answer from Our Almighty, that we spied a peculiar but quite massive rock formation that rose with suddenness from out of the baked ground. At its southernmost point there appeared to be a cavelike opening. I bade our driver approach. As we neared, the mystery – and in like manner my own fears of danger – was heightened by a signpost of cryptic content: “Sun Visor Down For No Bumper Sticker.” Our driver came to a halt a short distance from the opening and we disembarked.

I cannot deny the trepidation that weakened my every limb as we approached that ominous place, for I was in the lead of the party and feared that whatever lurked there would surely strike me first. In such circumstance, then, imagine my shock – indeed near mortification – when from out of that darkness jumped a dark-skinned girl who startled my very being with a loud “Aloha.” Whereupon she – who looked astonishingly not unlike the women of Polynesia as I recall my travels there – threw about my neck a ring of plastic substance ( bearing resemblance to the leis of. again, Polynesia) and upon my very cheek landed a warm kiss. “Komo Mai,” she sang, “Hawaii Kai.”

The others of my dumbfounded party were treated in similar fashion by others of these bronze maidens and we were in due course pointed toward another huge opening beyond which was bright sunshine. Our state of mind was such that we were only dimly aware of a second greeting – “Aloha. Five Dollars” – as we passed into that exotic land.

I cannot begin to describe all of the wonders which were upon us this day, but I shall recount the most memorable of these strange events. We were not captives, nor were we alone. Other white voyagers wandered this land. Many of them I noted, lacking conclusion, were round of body. Many too were children. We came first upon a large and gaily painted English sailing vessel whose stern bore the name Resolution, though we were told that it was also called Replica. Upon its deck, children manned cannons which shot rubberlike balls into the waters below (the result of which, I must ashamedly admit, I was not able to comprehend).

The trail, marked clearly in asphalt, led straightaway to a structure housing a huge glass tank which they call Aquarium. Here we were privy to an amazing underwater view of colorful and exotic catfish, sand bass, bream, crappie, and the strange and elusive carp. I am certain these are of prized rarity, for never in my Polynesian travels did I see such creatures. We pressed on and found ourselves upon the concrete shores of Kahili Bay, where the animals indigenous to this odd land were displaying their instinctive charms: white ducks were sliding upon a slide and a brightly plumed parrot was carefully roller skating across a table. Two sea lions, whose names were told to us as Punch and Misty, most attracted the fascinated eyes of our party. Misty in particular was a grand success as she cleverly entangled her fin in a hoop while jumping and playfully refused to catch rings upon her neck when tossed by one of the native boys. To our especial delight, when told to ascend to her lofty diving platform, this remarkable and spirited creature turned and blithely waddled away, disappearing into the building by the bay.

A most interesting discovery was the nature of the cuisine of this land – not at all like that of Polynesia. We passed by the beckoning fragrances of Mama Momi’s House of Pizza and arrived at Kau Kau Kitchen. Here we dined upon such island delicacies as Surfburgers, nachos, and Bolo Clubs. This last, which was in fact the smoked leg of turkey, was particularly intriguing, notably its near impenetrability by human teeth. We reasoned that these resourceful islanders must indeed use their food also as a form of imaginative weaponry.

A loud fanfare called us to that region called Lapa Lapa Lagoon, a habitat for dolphins and divers. The dolphins frolicked for a time and then also did the divers (whom they term Aquamaniacs) cavort and play – two remarkably intelligent species. One of these divers ascended a tower 100 feet into the air and threw himself from it, turning his body over four times before twisting into the water. An extraordinary feat, I duly acknowledge, though I came to question the intelligence of this particular animal.

A short time thereafter, in the most spectacular of the day’s events, this steaming afternoon was invaded by a tropical thunderstorm, an absolutely perfect reproduction of those in the islands of Hawaii. We sought shelter in a structure marked Alaskan Adventure, but were prevented by a sign proclaiming “Temporarily Out of Order.” We were told by other travelers that inside were freezing winds swirling about polar bears, penguins, walruses, and Eskimos and, hearing thus, we were greatly dismayed that this adventure had broken.

The sun had begun to set over Kahili Bay when I turned to my companions and suggested we depart from this land. I noted in the eyes of each a glassy, distant gaze that I took certainly to be one of rapturous wonderment. Yet when I proposed, in accordance with a suggestion from a native, that we explore a nearby region they call Lion Country, I was acknowledged by defiant silence and unwavering blank eyes. And so as I close this entry this night, dear journal, I feel a peculiar unsettling. Perhaps it is only the Bolo Clubs.

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